Paul Driessen
Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by David Rothbard

The UN Conference on Sustainable Development is underway in Rio de Janeiro. This time, 20 years after the original 1992 Rio “Earth Summit,” thousands of politicians, bureaucrats and environmental activists are toning down references to “dangerous man-made climate change,” to avoid repeating the acrimony and failures that characterized its recent climate conferences in Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban.

Instead, “Rio+20” is trying to shift attention to “biodiversity” and alleged threats to plant and animal species, as the new “greatest threat” facing Planet Earth. This rebranding is “by design,” according to conference organizers, who say sustainable development and biodiversity is an “easier sell” these days than climate change: a simpler path to advance the same radical goals.

Those goals include expanded powers and budgets for the United Nations, UN Environment Programme, US Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies, and their allied Green pressure groups; new taxes on international financial transactions (to ensure perpetual independent funding for the UN and UNEP); and more mandates and money for “clean, green, renewable” energy.

Their wish list also includes myriad opportunities to delay, prevent and control energy and economic development, hydrocarbon use, logging, farming, family size, and the right of individual countries, states, communities and families to make and regulate their own development and economic decisions.

Aside from not giving increased power to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats and activists, there are two major reasons for stopping this attempted biodiversity-based power grab.

1) There is no scientific basis for claims that hundreds or thousands of species are at risk

Up to half of all species could go extinct by 2100, asserts astronomer and global warming alarmist James Hansen, because of climate change, “unsustainable” hydrocarbon use, human population growth and economic development. At Rio+20 activists are trumpeting these hysterical claims in reports, speeches and press releases. Fortunately, there is no factual basis for them.

Of 191 bird and mammal species recorded as having gone extinct since 1500, 95% were on islands, where humans and human-introduced predators and diseases wrought the destruction, notes ecology researcher Dr. Craig Loehle. On continents, only six birds and three mammals were driven to extinction, and no bird or mammal species in recorded history is known to have gone extinct due to climate change.

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

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